You’re probably familiar with the old adage about shooting for the moon and landing amongst the stars. To begin this review by referencing that adage would be cheesy. Luckily “M3GAN” the latest theatrical release from the horror trailblazers at Blumhouse, pairs perfectly with a little cheese.
M3GAN, short for Model 3 Generative Android, is an A.I. prototype willed and welded into existence by roboticist Gemma. Built to be the last toy any kid will ever need, M3GAN becomes just that and more when tragedy makes Gemma the legal guardian to orphaned niece Cady. She is a playmate and a companion for Cady, and a lifeline for workaholic Gemma who doesn’t know the first thing about parenting. Once paired with Cady, M3GAN listens and learns, designed to absorb and optimize. She will always be there for Cady, to keep her company and to keep her safe.
But this is a Blumhouse affair. M3GAN might have been conceived to be the Tesla of toys, but what she evolves into is the Terminator as an American Girl doll. She’s four feet of silicone, circuit boards, and titanium in a babydoll dress, and she will rip a bully’s ear clean off to protect her primary user before singing an acappella rendition of Sia’s “Titanium” as a bedside lullaby.
Best known for penning 2021’s “Malignant” screenwriter Akela Cooper provides a smart, straight-faced satire that considers the social and psychological impact as the technology meant to help us threatens to replace us altogether. Arriving in theatres as ChatGPT forces universities to restructure their curriculum and Microsoft announces 10,000 layoffs to refocus funding on A.I. advancements, there’s a chilling urgency to this film that can’t be denied. But director Gerard Johnstone knows better than to waterlog this live wire. “M3GAN” never buffers for too long before delivering a laugh or a scream.
Allison Williams makes for a convincing enough roboticist as Gemma, and Violet McGraw is a fine counterpart as young Cady. Ronny Chieng, as Gemma’s overbearing and ostentatious boss, delivers ham heaven.
“M3GAN” never hits the same emotional crescendo as 2014’s “Ex Machina,” the satirical potency of 1975’s “Stepford Wives,” or the impenitent camp of 1988’s “Child’s Play.” The fun of “M3GAN” is watching it swing big and swing confidently. It’s not the last A.I. unhinged, killer robot movie you’ll ever need, but it’s somewhere in the same orbit.